HIL: Ranchi Rhinos host struggling Mumbai Magicians

Ranchi, Jan 27 (IANS) Fresh from a convincing 3-1 win over Uttar Pradesh Wizards, Ranchi Rhinos would be high on confidence as they take on struggling Mumbai Magicians in the Hockey India League here Monday.

Rhinos played a patient game against the Wizards in Lucknow, absorbing all the pressure in the first three quarters, and then scoring thrice in the final quarter.

Rhinos have been very solid in defence throughout this tournament, and would be keen to continue their good show going into their home game against the Magicians. Birendra Lakra has been their standout performer in the defence, and the Magicians' forwards would have their task cut out.

Mandeep Singh is another player the Magicians need to be wary off. Mandeep scored twice against the Wizards Saturday, and the hosts would be expecting a similar performance from the talented player.

The Magicians, on the other hand, have their own problems. At the half way stage, the team, coached by Aussie legend Ric Charlesworth, is yet to win a game and is at the bottom of the points table. Their star drag flicker Sandeep Singh has been in tremendous form but has failed to get support from his mates.

Their 11 of the 14 goals have come from penalty corners, and Sandeep has scored nine of them. It's high time some of their other top players put a hand up and took some responsibility. The forwards have made some brilliant individual moves, but converting them into goal is something that the Magicians haven't struggled at.

The middle-line just hasn't been able to supply the forwards on a regular basis, and the forwards have always lacked in numbers, to make a move threatening enough.

The defence has not been up to the mark either, conceding 24 goals in six games so far. The real worry for Magicians has been the man-to-man marking, and that's one area where they would really like to pull their socks up.

Letting four goals in on an average per game is a few too many.

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